A collection of personal reflections. Copyright © 2005-2011 K. Gurries

Friday, June 17, 2011

Radaelli: "No Rupture, But Also No Continuity"

Sandro Magister hosts a new contribution by Enrico Radaelli to the ongoing rupture vs. continuity debate.  Seemingly unconvinced by the Holy Father's proposal of a hermeneutic of reform in continuity with Tradition, and in sharp contrast to the arguments proposed by Fr. Cavalcoli, Radaelli argues that the Church currently finds itself in a state where there is neither rupture nor continuity.

According to Radaelli, formal rupture is theoretically impossible -- being limited to the first and second degrees of (infallible) doctrine.  On the other hand, Radaelli considers that the third degree of doctrine is ultimately and in the final analysis "not at all obligatorily binding for the obedience of the faithful."  According to Radaelli, this third degree of doctrine is subject to errors that can even contradict dogmatic truth or irreformable doctrines of the first and second degrees (i.e., authentic magisterial teachings of the third degree can be heretical).  On one hand, Radaelli denies that third degree doctrines touch upon the "dogmatic field".  On the other hand, Radaelli considers that third degree doctrines can nevertheless contradict dogma or doctrines within the "dogmatic field" representing a "false continuity with dogma".  While this does not constitute "formal rupture" it nevertheless can reflect a disparity with Tradition and a loss or disconnect with dogmatic truth.  So, we are left with a situation where there is no formal rupture, nor formal continuity -- so long as the errors and contradictions persist within the third degree of doctrine.  According to Radaelli, the only way out is to "purify" the doctrines of the third degree by raising them to the "supernatural level" and bringing them into contact with the "dogmatic fire".  The author proposes that the concilar doctrines be purified by the "white hot fire" on the occasion of the "fiftieth anniversary of the council of discord".

Fr. Cavalcoli has responded to Radaelli in a postscript where he further clarifies some of the confused ideas regarding doctrines of the third degree.  The Dominican theologian states that the third level of doctrine often contains a mixture of both doctrinal elements as well as pastoral provisions.  The doctrinal elements can "do no wrong" whereas pastoral provisions are subject to change according to circumstances or can even be imprudent, misguided or wrong in isolated cases.  It is only this later aspect that represents the fallible "straw" of the third degree -- and the process of separating the pure doctrine from the "straw" of pastoral provisions and other contingencies is precisely what is involved in order to raise doctrines from the third to the second or first degree.  Indeed, history has shown this to be a painstaking process that can even take centuries to sort out.  It is by virtue of the doctrinal content (even if these are newly developed points in continuity with the old) that religious submission of intellect and will is due to doctrines of the third degree. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would you respond to this challenge to the hermeneutic of continuity: http://www.franciscan-archive.org/apologetica/pav2.html

Also pertinent to this topic would be Amerio's commentary in Iota Unum on GS 24.

June 20, 2011 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. Has the Catholic Church defined that these so-called "third degree" doctrines are subject to error? Or is this just a theological opinion?

Besides, who will expose the "third degree" doctrines of Vatican II to the "white hot fire" of dogma? The magisterium? If not the magisterium, then who? The FSSPX? Haven't we already been down that road?


June 20, 2011 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, history has shown this to be a painstaking process that can even take centuries to sort out. It is by virtue of the doctrinal content (even if these are newly developed points in continuity [or apparent discontinuity] with the old) that religious submission of intellect and will is due to doctrines of the third degree.

A lesson that still needs to be learned by those who, without any divine authority, thunder against the "errors" of Vatican II.

June 23, 2011 9:02 AM  
Blogger K Gurries said...

Anon, in response I would refer the author to my post on Rupture Theology.

David, I find that Fr. Cavalcoli is clearing up a very misunderstood concept. The hermeneutic of continuity is tied to the concept of homogenous dogmatic develpment. The Catholic Encyclopedia has a great article on this: TRADITION AND LIVING MAGISTERIUM


Here is one small extract from the article that is particularly relevant to the current debate:

"The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings--she judges them more than she is judged by them. Harnack has said that the Church is accustomed to conceal her evolution and to efface as well as she can the differences between her present and her former thought by condemning as heretical the most faithful witnesses of what was formerly orthodoxy. Not understanding what tradition is, the ever-living thought of the Church, he believes that she abjured her past when she merely distinguished between what was traditional truth in the past and what was only human alloy mixed with that truth, the personal opinion of an author substituting itself for the general thought of the Christian community. With regard to official documents, the expression of the infallible magisterium of the Church embodied in the decision of councils, or the solemn judgments of the popes, the Church never gainsays what she has once decided. She is then linked with her past because in this past her entire self is concerned and not any fallible organ of her thought. Hence she still finds her doctrine and rule of faith in these venerable monuments; the formulas may have grown old, but the truth which they express is always her present thought."

June 25, 2011 8:02 AM  

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